We’ve seen the videos. An enthusiastic dog jumps into the lake and happily swims about to everyone’s delight. In reality, that’s not often a natural occurrence. Janice Stamps, the founder of Canine Aquatic Center, explains how people mistakenly think their retriever will immediately know how to swim.
“That’s not necessarily the case. There’s a lot of misconception about how many dogs really can swim,” she says.
In 2007 Stamps, a physical therapist for more than 40 years, opened Rehab for Life, an outpatient physical and occupational therapy clinic at 6215 E. Florida St. Twelve years later, she expanded the clinic’s services to include the Canine Aquatic Center. Stamps became a Certified Canine Aquatic Therapist in 2017 and is authorized to certify others. Human patients enter through one entrance, and dogs, with their escorts, through another. A glass wall separates the two pool areas, so curious humans and canines may observe each other’s aquatic sessions.
Many pet owners bring in their dogs for swim lessons to ensure safety when they’re near water. Stamps and her staff of three trained therapists also treat canine clients for a myriad of health issues, such as with hips and joints. An initial appointment in the pool — about 60 minutes — is to evaluate furry visitors for a therapy or teaching plan. Animal clients include service dogs and police K-9s as well as older dogs who often find improved quality of life through aquatic therapy.
“We have a lot of vets that refer a dog to us for aquatic therapy following an injury, illness, or surgery, and also for weight loss,” Stamps says.